Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer…I fell hard for these characters! 5 stars

There’s some safety in writing to a complete stranger.

Synopsis

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope. Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

 

Review

5 moving stars

 

I first had my attention caught by “More than We Can tell”. Two bloggers friends gave high ratings to the book explaining it was the second in a series that could be read as stand alone. One of these bloggers is Raven from Dreamy Addiction. As we have twin tastes in books I ordered both books.

 

Letters to the Lost is a formidable story about grief, love, believing in yourself and labels. I began in the morning and pushed all things blog related aside till I reached the end. I simply did not want to stop reading.

It was compelling, moving and insightful.

 

Juliet and Declan both experienced loss in their life. They both bear the weight of guilt in these deaths.

Juliet because she asked her mom to come back sooner and she was killed in a car accident.

Declan…I won’t explain as it will only be revealed later in the book.

 

For one whole day I’ve been immersed in Juliet and Declan’s pain.

I followed their conversation first through letters left on Juliet’s mom’s grave then on an anonym mail account.

Writing to people you have never met is liberating. I believe there is a deeper understanding of your soul and emotions when you write words on paper rather then say them out loud.

“Like you said, there’s some safety in writing to a complete stranger.”

Hidden behind those letters, unknown to the other Juliet and Declan could bare their heart. They let all their fears, guilt, rage and pain bleed into their words knowing the other experienced a similar loss and would understand.

Through their letters they healed each other.

Declan’s family has been destroyed. I really raged against his mom. How could she not see his pain? How could she leave his son bear the brunt of guilt? How could she abandon him? Build a life of her own all while ignoring and neglecting him so completely??? I am a mom and I WAS MAD!

I know she hurt too. I know she had lost someone and was suffering. But I was still furious.

Abuse by neglect is one of the worst things that can happen to a kid, whatever his age.

 

Declan and Juliet both attend the same school, in the same year but didn’t know it in the beginning. In real life their first encounter was raw and aggressive. Declan is confrontational. The school reject. The one who spent two nights in prison. The one who has been sentenced to community service or he would go to juvie.

Tall, intimidating, always ready to explode he is left alone all the time. His friend Rev is the only one courageous enough to stick by. Rev was a fantastic friend. He had his own past and problems. A giant so understanding and wise.

Brigid Kemmerer demonstrated splendidly how you can be branded by your past actions. How once you’ve committed a mistake the whole world will see you as less. A lost cause. Someone who will never accomplish anything good of meaningful. The students, the teachers, his family…everyone saw Declan as a future criminal.

“I think about Cemetery Girl’s line about being trapped in a single photograph. That’s how I feel right now. Alan saw one side of me, one moment of my life, and that’s all I’m reduced to now. That’s all anyone sees. Declan Murphy, drunk driver, family ruiner. My snapshot, captured forever in time.”

But the story is not only about being put into a square box with a negative label. It’s about second chances too.

One act of kindness is all it can take. One person believing in you. One person ready to listen to you, to see you, really see you is all it takes to send you on another path and have you bloom.

That’s what happened to Declan not only with Juliet’s letters but thanks to “Melonhead” and Mrs Hillard.

 

Back to Juliet now.

She has pushed everyone away since her mom’s death. Except Rowan, her best friend.

The first month teachers and students were understanding of her grief. Now they just expect her to move on. As if grief has a time stamp! You are supposed to mourn for a limited time and go on as if nothing ever happened. What a bunch of crap!

Grief is brutal. There is rage in grief. You want to understand. You want answers. There must be a culprit!

“If I can’t blame fate, who else is left?”

Grieving is a personal process. Even if you have read the “stages” of mourning everyone does it in his own personal way. There is no good or bad way to mourn the loss of someone.

The loss…

“Don’t you think it’s funny how people say “lost” as if they were just misplaced? But maybe it’s a different meaning of “lost”, in that you don’t know where they went.”

 

I have so much more to tell about this book but then it would be a never-ending story.

 

I really fell in love with Brigid Kemmerer insightful writing. I would say that if you love A. Meredith Walters you would love this author because she feels so much love for troubled teens or young adults. She has a real talent to express in few sentences all the turmoil they go through.

 

Let me give you these lines from Invictus that I will go read now as it resonated deep in my soul too and is the perfect embodiment of this story:

“Under the bludgeoning of chance, my head is bloody but unbowed.” “ I am the captain of my soul”. Invictus by William Ernest Henley.

 

Thank you Raven and Kathy for writing so enthusiastic reviews about “More than We Can tell” hinting at this book too. You made me discover a fantastic writer.

Have you read this book? What do you think about writing letters to others?

Thanks for reading!

Sophie

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9 Replies to “Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer…I fell hard for these characters! 5 stars”

  1. Wonderful review, Sophie! It’s a really good book.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you Wendy!!!!

  2. Wonderful Review, Sophie! I’m so glad you loved this book! I can’t wait for you to read Rev’s story! It was cute and emotional read with adorable characters! I think you’ll definitely love it! 🙂

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Already on my “real” shelves Raven!!!! I just need to find some time but it’s definitely on!

  3. WOW Sophie… I think you just joined Raven and Kathy as writing a truly stellar review! I want to read this so much now! I love loner guys and I suspect his mom’s neglect will get my blood boiling too. I love the idea of letters and connecting through them before meeting in person. ❤️

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you SO MUCH for your praise Dani! I loved it so much that it’s a challenge to write something enticing for others xx

  4. Okay. Granted it was already on my tbr ithink- bur i REALLY wanna pick that book up now !!

    Wonderful review xx

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you so much Kristina! xx

  5. What an outstanding review you have here. I agree that you CAN’T put a time stamp on grief. I remember when I was 19, my BF passed away and my family and friends just thought I could start dating after a couple of months. And it took a couple of years before I could even think about dating again. So grief is intense and horrible and sucks you dry of life at times. I really want to read this though.

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